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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Entropy: Life of Mojo

It started as a facebook status and turned in to a rap battle. Several sources gave in awesome impromptu inputs and we had a poem with a theme et .al.. 
Presenting the Poets of the Wall: Kartik, Mojo, DG, Tinku and Rohu.

kartik
A rage and a wrath with a searing light
The mind turns dark and the heart burns white
The soul frets intensely for sense and reason
But were it wiser, it would break for freedom

mojo
Having said that Kartik said ' let me break free
Like the yellowed leaf falls off deciduous tree
Of the great Mojo, guidance I must seek
Where is he ?
Can he be found ?
I cannot think, my mind infinitely weak
If you ever find him, tell me where to go
before I am chained again and bound to the worldly flow
say nothing against him, that would be treason
he is to show me the way to divine sense and reason

kartik
And I finally found him, he was holding an axe
Greasy hair, yellow teeth and his eyes were like sacks
He passes me a joint, said "smoke up on this,"
"sit down, chill, I will show you the way to bliss" 

dg
He will tell you about the doorway to heaven
And will explain you to be cautious while you travel
As you may find the dangerous creature on the way
To whom he,the great Mojo, himself has fallen prey

FYI: Mojo was actually bitten by a dog once.
 
mojo 
Okay I have serious doubts about that
how could I have fallen prey,
if I am here writing what I am writing
on Kartik's facebook wall today?

kartik
Agreed, the creature came down as Mojo's bane,
But alas, it caused the beast the greater pain.
Our guru here thought he was still happy and merry,
Perhaps he has not yet realized, that he has gone crazy.

mojo
Contradiction is thy bane
Kartik....am I the one who is insane?
With me having inflicted the greater pain
the beast still gets to be the bane!!!!
I am happy and merry too
more so with a bottle of beer or two
but crazy? no no!
I'm far from that, the master of sanity
I'm very humble too, not saying out of vanity

kartik
Its amazing how these battles unfold,
There are only victims, no one takes the gold.
the beast left toothless and mojo left insane,
its a moot point to argue who was who's bane.
It seems he what he lost there was more than his mind,
he also lost his identity, and left his memory behind.
he claims he came face to face with Hades,
And as proof, he shows the shots he got for rabies... 

tinku
two chilled bottles and toke a flight
Mojo seems so happy he gives a fright
Tears behind the happy merry mask
often escape the sight
Those who weep in insanity
often are the Masters of humble sanity
so knows the quixotic knight 

At this point, Rohu, a seasoned poet, was invited to join . . .

rohu
After the ides of March shalt pass my friend..
this warrior will not spare ant battle..

kartik
Oh, the dilemma when a hero joins the fray,
do you fort the bastions or do you prepare the way...

mojo
It seems that when I was away for a little while,
they wrote and wrote in order to defile,
the truth that must not be veiled with any falsity,
that Mojo is indeed the epitome of sanity
I retain my memory, identity, and mind
Kartik your apalling distortions you must rescind,
Tinku's words are deep, so deep are they
his thoughts took his mind quite astray
His mind wanders, answers still not found
I wonder if his mind would ever be homeward bound
Kartik, let me answer the question you have chosen to ask
it is no dilemma but an easy task
but I think it is best to leave your quandary with you
do solve it without creating much hullabaloo

kartik
There you go again Mojo my friend,
Standing your ground till the very end.
But your tall claim is a paradox you see,
"archetypically normal" what is that supposed to be?

And even if you say you are sane and sound,
your actions are contrary, words don't hold any ground

You are in denial, don't fight this and don't sob,
actually being normal and sensible just makes you a slob,
Be glad we don't think of you as a mundane swab,
Accept it, you are one of us, join our psycho mob!!

tinku
Hullabaloo Hulabaloo tch tch YaY Yay
undercurrent of negativity all the way
Beep Beep Deep Sleep Hick Hick
Is calling this a mob a petty trick
Clap slap ching ming curd turd
crowd of black sheep is still a herd!

kartik
I can't match your profound expertise...
can you repeat that in English please?     
-- potw
. . .

Keep Walking: The Climb

Leaving far behind the placid plain,
and standing there at the base of the range,
Fully geared and ready on my feet,
staring wide, straight at the peak.

Home was warm and had everything I need.
It was my playground, my school, my world indeed,
and so it always will be, but this is my time,
I stand here today 'cause I have a mountain to climb.

. . .

I start of my journey with an incredible high,
My strides have vigor as I aim for the sky.
The path carves out magically at my behest.
and the nature too is at its colorful best.

The pines of this boulevard reach a dizzying height.
Through the clear blue heavens, the sun shines bright.
The afar clouds and the snow caps are looking sublime,
and that's where I'm heading, I have a mountain to climb.

. . .

The breeze turns to blizzard, the paths are blind curves.
Grit drives me onward as I dig for my reserves
Been forging the assent for what feels like ages,
and I've reached a place which belongs to the sages.

There's singularity of thought, mind devoid of its clatters,
Determining the next step, that's  all that matters.
The summit's not visible, neither the trail I left behind,
All I can see is that I have a mountain to climb. 

. . .

The eternity ends after many a night.
Now the dawn breaks and my apex is in sight.
Once Mt. Colossus, now remains just a hill.
All I feel are the cross-hairs as I shoot for the kill. 

This last stretch is a sprint, and then finally, I stop.
Rapture. Then reflection, and it's a marvelous view from the top.
I look around and there's clarity, even in my soul.
My trail to my roots, here I see my world as a whole.

What next from here? Go back or go on further?
Now that I have scaled one, I will always want another.
   To forge through the clouds and to bask in the shine.
I keep walking, I have mountains to climb.
-- khanabadosh

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Kaveri Stretch: Bheemeshwari

It is the smallest of the major rivers in India, but waters of Kaveri (a.k.a Cauvery) have historically been the life blood for regions of the far South. The river, which is fabled to be an offspring of Brahma, has entire Hindu legends and mythologies based around it, and is venerated as a goddess. Some religious texts even deem it to be more sacred than the Ganga, and perhaps with a good reason. Kaveri, with its tributaries, has forever been the chief source of water in these parts. It has nurtured the Southern kingdoms since the Iron Age, seen their rise and fall and been an integral part of the culture and heritage here. Even today,  Kaveri river system is the prime source of fresh water for two of the country's biggest states, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and has been the cause of a major geopolitical conflict between the two states for over a century.

Bangalore, Karnataka's capital and the city where I currently reside, heavily depends on Kaveri for water and power. Living in Bangalore, one becomes fairly acquainted with the river and any issue or development related to it. But, the river itself passes a 100 kms away from the city, and I happened to first touch its banks on a road trip to Bheemeshwari.


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It was 15th of August and a day-off for most of us, and we decided to make the best use of it with a bike trip. Destination: Bheemeshwari, a small settlement at the banks of Kaveri, famous as a tourist spot for boat rides, rafting, trekking and especially fishing. In fact, there is a government sponsored fishing camp at Bheemeshwari where Mahseer sport is the USP. We chose this camp as our actual destination point.

A group of five people rode out on four bikes: a Bajaj Avenger, a Bajaj Pulsar -135 and two Yamaha FZs (one of which I was riding). We had breakfast in Koramangala, and started off. 


The entire ride was brilliant. The first stretch was the 10 km ride on the Bangalore Elevated Tollway (BETL) to Electronics City. The second stretch was a 14 km arc on NICE Road, which again is a wide segregated expressway, making a semi-circle around Bangalore. Needless to say, we covered both these stretches in very good time. We got off at the Kanakapura road (NH 209) exit from NICE Road on a 60 km long stretch. 

The Kanakapura road was narrower and had heavy traffic. But the road was well built and fun to ride on as we made fast cuts and curves through it. In the mean time, I was really starting to like my FZ. Although lacking power and speed, it more than made-up for that in balance and stability. Negotiating with the heavy traffic on it was a breeze. And apparently, its just impossible to make a mistake on it, unless you attempt something like a somersault that is. 

The other bikes weren't having such a great time though. The Avenger's engine stopped as soon as we landed on the NH. After a brain storming session we decided that looking for a mechanic would be the best way to go. We did actually find one a kilometer down the road who helped us stow the bike till his shop, where it got duly repaired (the problem was salt sedimentation in the circuitry).

By the way, Independence day celebrations were in full swing in the country side and were manifest in spirited colors.



We continued on the highway up till Sathanur, where we were supposed to take a left on a rural road. Here, I got separated from the rest of the pack due to a communication gap (others had decided to stop there for a break) and the total lack of phone signals. I simply continued on that rural road, through a hilly ride, all the way up till the banks of the river Kaveri.

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Chief rivers of India. Source: wikipedia.com
Kaveri is quite humble when compared to the greats in the North.  It is 770 km long and its basin is 81,000 sq. km in area. In contrast, Krishan's (it closest neighbor) respective numbers are 1,400 km and 250,000 sq. km, and those of the great Ganga are 2,500 km and 1 M sq. km. Moreover, it is a monsoon fed river, that means it doesn't have a constant source of replenishment like the Himalayan rivers. But, given its geographical isolation, this humble river has been shouldering and fulfilling the responsibility of feeding this entire region. Now when a resource is limited and the takers are many, it becomes precious and sacred, and sometimes even a cause of controversy and conflict. Which is the case with Kaveri.

The Kaveri river water dispute is one of the oldest and most famous conflicts in the country. If you are a Bangalore resident, it becomes all too real when you see political workers waving the state flag and enforcing a close-down of the city, all to voice their disagreement with whatever the courts have to say. The root of the conflict lies in the agreements which the British drafted long before India became independent.

At that time Karnataka used to be the Princely State of Mysore and Tamil Nadu used to be Madras Presidency. According the original agreements, Mysore would have to seek Madras' consent for any major Kaveri related projects that it undertook, and also make sure that the latter's interests are not injured. Mysore was never content with this agreement. From their perspective, Madras belonged to the British Raj, and that they were heavily favored in this deal. On the other hand, Madras being lower riparian state was concerned about its water supply and was always vociferous in its demands. So, whenever Mysore started a new project, Madras would strongly oppose it and Delhi would be called in to arbitrate, new plans would be drawn and new rules would be applied. But the two states never would and never have come to an actual agreement on this issue and above sequence became a historic cycle.

Today, a hundred years later; Mysore has become Karnataka, Madras has become Tamil Nadu and India is an independent country, but the dispute is yet to be resolved. Even after several Chief Ministers and Prime Ministers, committees and court hearings, demonstrations and riots, and even new players getting involved (Kerala and Pondicherry also claim a right on a portion of Kaveri waters), the two states are still running around in circles. Tamil Nadu cries 'thief' and Karnataka cries 'foul' and Delhi is called in to make peace.

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The simple and peaceful river bank at Bheemeshwari seemed far away from all this controversy.  Several families had gathered to have a picnic and just chill-out on their day off. I kept riding upstream along the bank in search for my long lost group. It was a 10 km river road with hills on one side and a torrential river on the other.


After waiting and riding around for some time, I finally rediscovered my people at the gates of the  fishing camp (IMPORTANT: You have to pre-book if you want to enter). We finally settled at an isolated spot down the road. It was right next to the river and had a welcome sign.


After a short break we started making our return journey via a slightly longer route. We stopped for lunch at Halaguru, where we had probably our best Kanadiga food experience ever. The restaurant was tiny, unassuming, almost invisible from the road and completely stuffed with people. But the service was prompt and friendly and the food was nothing like what you get in Bangalore.

After that, we continued our leisurely journey back home via the same road. We stopped a couple of times for tea later got drenched in the evening showers right after entering Bangalore. We reached Madiwala at dusk and concluded our day with an early dinner at an Arabic restaurant called Sea Shells. Before we all departed, plans for the next trip were already formulated, decided and committed. That weekend, we ended up at Kammenagundi near Chikmangalur . . . more on that in another post.
  
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I have visited Kaveri a few times since then and also researched about it for the purposes of this blog. What I realized is, the more I learned about it, the more curious I became and the deeper I dug in. But, there was always more and more to discover. The river has a story, a history and a mythology. It has gods and legends associated with it and, of course, deep sentiments of the people attached to it. And all this, somehow, is profoundly imbibed in the stories of India herself. It gives a fresh perspective, both holistic and atomic, about this great country of mine.

More on Kaveri in later posts . . .  
. . .

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Camping 101: Yelagiri Hills

So, how many techies does it take to setup a camp?

Five, apparently. Although it was dark and the terrain was rocky and the tents malfunctioned, but with sufficient intellect, motivational skills and YouTube, it was a job well done in the end. Of course, food, water and firewood were provided by the resort we were put up at, and thank goodness, there was no wildlife, especially mosquitoes.


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Me and a group of vella friends had decided to go on a camping trip to Yelagiri, a small hill station in Tamil Nadu, around 200 km from Bangalore. The occasion was the birthday of a fellow aspiring camper. It was decided that we will do our experiments at the Aura Valley Resort (which allegedly is a great place to come as you are). Tents and sleeping bags were to be rented from a shop in Banashankari, Bangalore, everything else was to be taken care of by the resort folks.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The NH7 Road Trip: Bangalore to Hyderabad

This is how it started . . .

Me: I need to go to Hyderabad.
Friend: Go on your bike.
Me: Yes, actually.
Friend: Great, I will come too.

. . . and just like that, two weeks later we were on NH7, riding a Bullet loaded with huge backpacks, cruising on a 600 km journey from Bangalore to Hyderabad.


Here's the buildup. A friend of mine from my Master's, a Hyderabadi, was getting married on December 27, in Hyderabad. So I needed to be there, in Hyderabad. Another friend (my co-pilot for the trip), a Hyderabadi, wanted a break from Bangalore and go celebrate New Year's at home, in Hyderabad. As for me, I have practically been living with Hyderabadis for the past five years, and simply speaking, Hyderabadis never run out of things to say about their home town, Hyderabad. So, I have had quite an overdose on everything related to the city, but I never had actually been there. Here was a really good occasion for me to go visit . . . Hyderabad. 

Talking about the bike, I had recently purchased a Royal Enfield Bullet Classic 350. And that locomotive of a two-wheeler was demanding to be taken out where it belonged to, the wide open highway. The brilliantly laid out NH7 provided the perfect opportunity.